Shahzia Sikander often explores the traditions of Indo-Persian miniature painting, bringing the formal elements of that discipline into the depiction of her own identity as a Muslim American. In reinvigorating the traditional, Sikander has turned to video art and digital animation. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006.

This self-portrait exhibits Sikander’s mastery of drawing and her sophisticated manner of layering. Anchored by beautifully etched likenesses that are bathed in the colors of a sunrise, the images reference the historical Miraj paintings of the visionary night journey of Prophet Muhammad. The white silhouette of a horse-riding figure serves as a metaphor for the journey for artistic truth. As self-portraits, these works reveal powerful, complex, and nuanced insights into Muslim American identity.


  • Title: Portrait of the Artist
  • Creator: Shahzia Sikander
  • Date Created: 2016
  • Physical Dimensions: w42.9 x h55.9 cm (Image)
  • Type: Etching
  • Rights: © Shahzia Sikander National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquisition made possible through Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2017.92
  • Classification: Print

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